So this following weekend J and I kicked off my LAST EVER spring break by heading to Milwaukee. My life-long best friend, Getz, and her boyfriend, Thomas, were going to be in town for a printmaking conference so we decided to take the short drive from Chicago and pop over for a night.
We met Getz and Thomas at the hotel, did a little sprucing up, and then hit the town to check out the scene. We weren’t really sure what to expect from this little city to our North (about 90 miles) as none of us have spent much time in the area. After making a very brief appearance at The Milwaukee Art Museum (i.e. not wanting to pay the cover fee) we hopped in the car to scout for watering holes.
Our first stop was spotted by J from the car. Aptly named Y Not (2), we asked ourselves “why not?”, quickly found parking, and made our way inside. This is the kind of bar I love; cracked vinyl booths, surly regulars, and walls papered with beer posters from over the years. I am a huge fan of the dive. We shot a couple games of pool and the boys had a couple beers until we all agreed it was time to find dinner.
Getz nailed it when choosing the restaurant for dinner. AJ Bombers is loud, delicious, and coated in discarded peanut shells. We were immediately seated in a booth where we were promptly delivered our own peanuts by way of a zeppelin-like vessel that was attached to a track on the ceiling. The bartender would fill the vessel, launch it over to our table, and the peanuts would drop down a funnel and into a bucket in our booth…amazing. There were table games and chalkboards in the booth. You can also draw on just about every surface available so, needless to say, these four art-students were ecstatic. Bonus points for Getz as she has always carried around a bag of Sharpies in her purse.
We all ordered one of AJ Bombers’ acclaimed burgers and, believe me, they did not disappoint. They make a no-frills-no-fluff burger at AJ’s which is what I like to see; too many bells and whistles and you can hardly eat the thing. Getz also got some soft pretzels that were delicious.
After a nightcap and a few games of pinball and pool at a neighborhood joint, The Roman Coin, we headed back to the hotel and called it a night.
The next morning Getz and Thomas had a demonstration to attend, so J and I said our goodbyes and got back in the car to hunt for a breakfast spot. The way to find a great breakfast place, in my opinion, is to look for the most crowded joint you can find any time before noon. We definitely found this in The packed Comet Café.
After enduring the 30 minute wait we were finally seated at the packed bar. I went with your standard eggs on toast with sausage, but it was J’s drink that really took the cake. Yeah, a bloody mary WITH bacon. AND the most adorable little beer I’ve ever seen.
While filling up and chatting about the rest of the day we both noted how many tattoo parlors we were coming across in the city. All the employees at most of the spots we went to were sporting ink of some fashion and it just seemed, at least to J, that it would only be appropriate that we got tattooed at one of the native shops. When you’ve been tattooed as many times as I have, you come to understand that once someone gets the idea in their head that they want to be tattooed that day, they WILL make that happen. So we agreed to shop around the city until noon (when most shops open) and see if we could score any walk-in appointments. In the meantime, I scored these awesome boots at Goodwill…
When the clock struck midday we went in search of a traditional tattoo shop. J had a quote he wanted done in script and I had an idea for the back of my right elbow. Cutthroat Tattoo is a cool shop; small and clean with friendly artists. It just so happened that two of the artists had cancellations at 1:00pm so we filled out our paperwork and hopped onto the tables for some good old fashioned body modification.
J’s script, a Lewis Carol quote, reads “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” I went with, as my artist called it, “a pretty little bow” above my right elbow. Get it? El-BOW? Yeah, I can be clever at times 😉
With our fresh tats and a new view on our neighboring city, we said our goodbyes to Milwaukee and got back on the road to Chicago. I would definitely recommend taking a quick trip to Milwaukee; especially to Chicagoans as it is so close. The nightlife is fun and unpretentious, the food is hearty and delicious, and the people seem relaxed and friendly. Check out the links below to check out the spots we visited, then go visit them yourself! This was a great little break from our great big city and a perfect start to what will hopefully be a very relaxing but productive spring break.